Beckham may be back

 

DAVID BECKHAM is poised to give Glenn Hoddle a much-needed World Cup boost with a possible return to Manchester United colours against familiar rivals Wimbledon tonight.

England coach Hoddle suffered a double blow on Monday: Teddy Sheringham was officially ruled out of the reckoning for next month's crunch Wembley date with Italy, and Paul Gascoigne suffered an ankle injury playing for Rangers in the Euro six-a-side tournament in Amsterdam.

If Gascoigne is forced to pull out of the February 12th match, Hoddle would probably bring in Beckham to fill the playmaker role against Cesare Maldini's men.

But Beckham has missed United's last two matches with an ankle injury suffered in training, and Alex Ferguson feared the worst.

However, 21-year-old Beckham has recovered sufficiently quickly to now be a possible to face Joe Kinnear's side on their second visit to the Theatre of Dreams in four days.

And Ferguson could also have Gary Pallister and Nicky Butt on duty as he looks for a victory that would put United top of the table for the first time this season.

Beleaguered West Ham manager Harry Redknapp is set to recall John Moncur after injury as they play host to Arsene Wenger's Arsenal Mike Newell's loan spell is up but Portugual's Hugo Porfirio could return to the starting line-up.

Even so, Redknapp is still looking to boost his squad although rumoured moves for Stoke's Mike Sheron and Newcastle's Paul Kitson are set to go on hold for now.

Wenger is without the suspended Martin Keown and Dennis Bergkamp, although Ian Wright is fit and will partner the available-again John Hartson up front.

While Old Trafford witnesses the most important clash between the capital and the north west, another will take place at White Hart Lane, where Tottenham bid to end a run of four successive defeats in 1997 against Blackburn.

Blackburn, by contrast, are on a roll, even if question marks over the summer arrival of Sven Goran Eriksson are not the best preparation for Tony Parkes' men.

Rovers have not conceded a goal in six matches, and the long-term caretaker boss also has Scotland international Billy McKinlay available again after suspension.

Struggling Everton face a difficult away assignment against Newcastle.

"We're desperate for a win," admitted Everton manager Joe Royle. "We've had a humiliating defeat in the Cup and five consecutive Premiership losses, and must get things going. I don't want us to be looking over our shoulder. I want us to be chasing the teams above us."

Fourth-placed Newcastle have only won one of their last five matches - the last three under Kenny Dalglish.

Jim Smith's Derby tackle Leeds at Elland Road hovering just two points above the relegation zone

Smith's plans halve been badly hampered by a string of injuries, with Dean Sturridge the latest victim after suffering a hamstring strain in training today.

Leeds will be without Lee Sharpe, still sidelined by a groin injury, and suspended David Wetherall.